Africa’s richest man and prominent Nigerian business mogul, Aliko Dangote, suffered a major loss, Sunday, when his multi-dollar cement factories in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, was set ablaze by unknown persons. No reason has been given for the arson on the huge investment in the Ethiopia by the Nigerian billionaire industrialist.
But Ethiopia has accused elements in Eritrea, Egypt and other countries of stirring the crisis that culminated in the burning of factories owned by the Nigerian and other foreign investors.
In a statement on Monday, Ethiopia accused the suspects of arming, training and funding groups that it also blamed for a wave of protests and violence in regions around its capital Addis Ababa.
The protesters attacked Dangote Cement factory with vehicles and machinery at the firm’s plant in Oromiya.
Other firms attacked alongside Dangote’s include: FV SeleQt BV – the Dutch firm’s 300-hectare vegetable farm and warehouse in Oromiya, AfricaJUICE BV– the Dutch firm’s factory in Oromiya, Saygin Dima Textile–a third of the Turkish firm’s factory in Oromiya, BMET Energy Telecom Industry and Trade LLC – the Turkish cable firm’s factory was damaged in Oromiya and Esmeralda Farms BV of the Netherlands, Italian owned-Alfano Fiori, Indian firm Fontana Flowers PLC, and others operated and owned by investors from Israel, Belgium and the Middle East.
The government declared a state of emergency on Sunday after more than a year of unrest in Oromiya and Amhara regions, where protesters say the government has trampled on their rights in pursuit of industrial development. The protesters accused government of grabbing their land.
Rights groups say more than 500 people have died in clashes with police and other confrontations. The violence has damaged around a dozen factories and equipment mostly belonging to foreign firms, accused by protesters of purchasing leases for seized land.
“There are countries, which are directly involved in arming, financing and training these elements,” government spokesman Getachew Reda told a news conference.
He named Eritrea, which has a long-running border dispute with Ethiopia, and Egypt, embroiled in a row with Addis Ababa over sharing Nile waters, as sources of backing for “armed gangs”, although he said it might not come from “state actors”.
“We have to be very careful not to necessarily blame one government or another. There are all kinds of elements in the Egyptian political establishment, which may or may not necessarily be directly linked with the Egyptian government,” Getachew said.
Egypt has dismissed previous accusations that it was meddling in Ethiopian affairs.
“Egypt firmly respects the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries,” a Foreign Ministry statement said last week.
Eritrea routinely dismisses charges that it wants to destabilise its neighbour, and instead, accused Addis Ababa of stoking unrest on its own soil.